Earlier this week I presented to a large gathering of physicians about the role social media and digital communication tools can play in helping to promote their practices. One of the concerns they expressed had to do with negative online reviews from patients (Yelp, Healthgrades, Angie’s List) and reputation management for physicians. When the folks at InboundMD sent me the infographic below, I immediately thought of those physicians who are struggling with this new reality.

This is an interesting situation, as you’ll see in the infographic. Patients place a lot of stock in online reviews of physicians, while the physicians feel powerless to deal with the profileration of reviews. Sadly, many physician rating scores on sites like Yelp or Angie’s List are based on a very small number of reviews. They are based on a very small universe of patients. And I’m not sure that consumers viewing those ratings are scrutinizing the data.

One piece of advice I share with any physician who will listen is that the best counter to a negative review is a dozen positive reviews! Although most physicians I speak with are uncomfortable with this idea, I urge physicians and their staff to encourage satisfied patients to go online and leave reviews. In this way, they could get out in front of any negative reviews in a proactive manner. If I had my way, each practice would have a pre-printed sheet that instructs patients where to go to leave positive reviews. Many practices already do this (dental practices have been doing this for years) and it is a very smart strategy.

Enjoy the infographic!

Online Reputation Facts
Courtesy of: InboundMD

As I’ve gotten older and more experienced, I’ve learned to let go of certain things. When it comes to my blog, I used to be hardcore about posting several times each week. For years, my wife called herself a blog widow. Now I only post when there’s something I want to share. But I still hate to look back and see a week where I didn’t post anything. That week was last week.

It’s not that I didn’t do any writing last week. In fact, the main reason I didn’t post anything to my blog was because I was writing an article for Management in Healthcare, a peer-reviewed professional journal on leadership, administration, and management in healthcare. In the article, I share my perspective on the digital future of physician relations. The publication wanted 4,000 to 6,000 words so this was no small effort. Sometimes articles flow out of me, while at other time, it is like pulling teeth. This particular article took some effort and many revisions. However, it felt great to finally turn in the finished draft at the end of the week!

My weekends at home, when I usually catch up on my writing, have been consumed of late with downsizing and decluttering activities. My wife and I are preparing to sell our house of 15 years and move into a smaller, newer and less demanding home (no yard to maintain, for starters). We’re actually building a townhouse. As we prepare to put or house on the market, I’ve spent the last three weekends painting rooms neutral colors so they won’t offend potential buyers. Presumable homebuyers can’t see past the existing colors – having never purchased a can of paint!

Hopefully, after all that, I am back in blogging mode!

Yesterday I published a post about the Practical Playbook’s upcoming 2nd Annual National Meeting – Improving Population Health: Collaborative Strategies That Work. The conference will be taking place May 31 – June 2, 2017 at The Westin Washington D.C., City Center. I plan to be there blogging and Tweeting throughout!

As a follow-up to that post, I wanted to mention the organization’s Call for Posters. The submission deadline is fast approaching: March 20, 2017.

Overview of Poster Session

The Practical Playbook has issued a Call for Posters for its 2nd annual National Meeting, Improving Population Health: Collaborative Strategies That Work. The meeting will take place May 31 – June 2, 2017 at The Westin Washington D.C., City Center. The Poster Session is an important part of the National Meeting, providing an opportunity for participants to share their experiences, celebrate successes and learn about effective methods and resources for cross-sector collaboration from their peers.

Poster Session Guidelines

Poster Session displays at the 2017 Practical Playbook National Meeting will highlight innovative and impactful strategies, tools and approaches to public health, primary care and community collaborations for improvements in population health.

Poster Session displays may focus on:

  1. Successful and/or innovative public health, primary care and community collaborations in the planning stages
  2. Successful and/or innovative collaborations currently in the implementation stages
  3. Effective tools, resources or strategies to support successful collaborations

Researchers and practitioners who have implemented innovative programs, and/or those with an effective approach for addressing a population health challenge involving collaboration between public health, primary care and community organizations are encouraged to submit a draft of the poster they would display at the meeting.

To learn more about the poster session or to submit a poster, visit the Practical Playbook National Meeting website. Poster drafts must be submitted no later than March 20, 2017. Individuals who are selected to present at the National Meeting will be notified by April 17, 2017 via email.

For the last couple of years my team and I have proudly worked along side the team from the Practical Playbook to promote improvements in population health by facilitating collaboration between provider organizations and public health organizations. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience. This year we’ll be holding our second annual National Meeting. I hope you’ll join me at the 2017 Practical Playbook National Meeting Improving Population Health: Collaborative Strategies That Work, Wednesday, May 31 through Friday, June 2, 2017, at the Westin Washington, D.C. City Center.

This second annual meeting provides a forum for national dialogue on best practices for cross-sector collaborations, while rising to meet the challenges of the changing healthcare landscape.

Participants from across the nation, representing public health, primary care, community organizations addressing social determinants of health, and other sectors, will attend to network and share their experiences. Based on my experience at last year’s National Meeting, this year’s event will be timely, stimulating, thought provoking and a great opportunity for networking with peers.

The meeting will explore the following themes:

  • Understanding and Leveraging Current & Emerging Policy and Funding Trends
  • Best Practices for Data Collection and Use
  • Strategies for Collaboration and Implementation
  • Building Momentum in Uncertain Times
  • Taking Local Action to Generate Scalable Results

Early bird registration closes March 31, 2017. Space is limited so visit PracticalPlaybook.org/NationalMeeting to register today!

img_8795Starbucks is part of my daily routine and has been for years. On Swarm, I am the mayor of my local Starbucks. The people in my neighborhood shop know me by name and give me incredible service.

When the company rolled out its mobile order service in 2015, I watched with interest. It really has changed the dynamic in the store. With all of these online orders flooding in, it is difficult to know where my order falls in the queue. That said, mobile ordering hasn’t diminished the quality of my customer experience, but it has introduced an unexpected health concern.

A health risk: One problem with the online ordering is that the person who ordered the drink is often not in the store when the drink is prepared. The barista calls our the name on the order (“Mobile order for Dan”), and then places the drink on the counter with all of the other mobile orders. Suddenly, there are a bunch of drinks on the counter. As customers enters the store looking for their online orders, they start handling (touching) the drinks to find their own. You see, the stickers Starbucks prints out and places on the cups aren’t particularly easy to read and are often covered up by the cup sleeve or are turned away from the customer. People continually walk up to the array of drinks and manipulate them to determine which one is their order. Let me be clear, I don’t want anyone handling my drink. But what I object to the most is people who handle the cups by grabbing them by the lid. I see this happen every day at my Starbucks and at other locations that I visit during my travels. (I have a similar issue with restaurant menus that are not sanitized after each use.)

fullsizerender-4In my line of work I have developed a keen appreciation for hand hygiene – and an understanding of just how many people fail to adhere to good hand hygiene practices. These Starbucks customers could have the flu or some other contagious condition, and are touching the lid of a drink that may not be their own. The germs travel from their hand to another customer’s lips. It is disgusting. It is bad hygiene that could lead to the transmission of nasty infections!

What should Starbucks do? I believe Starbucks should encourage customers not to handle cups by the lids. That seems like a simple message that could be communicated in the store through signage. Starbucks could also coach baristas to place the cups on the bar with the sticker facing the customer. That would make it easier (still not perfect) for customers to identify their drinks. I’m sure there are a number of solutions. My objective is to keep Starbucks from becoming a distribution point for the spread of the common cold, influenza, noroviruses, nosocomial infections, hepatitis and other diseases/illnesses that are easily transmitted by touch. Is that too much to ask?



If you’re looking for a great learning opportunity and a chance to connect with more than 750 healthcare marketing, strategy, and physician relations executives, I’ve got a suggestion for you. I suggest you consider attending the 22nd Annual Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit! This year’s event will be held in Austin, Texas, May 8 – 10, 2017 at the JW Marriott Resort. The Summit is one of the leading conferences in the healthcare arena for senior-level marketing, strategy, physician relations, sales, and business development executives from hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, integrated networks, and medical groups.

In the spirit of transparency and full disclosure, I’ve been on the faculty of the conference for a decade. From my perspective, this conference is the perfect size – still small enough with 750 attendees to allow for more meaningful networking and socializing. More important than that, Judy Neiman, president of the Health Strategy Institute and the event organizer, is incredibly thoughtful in the way she select speakers and topics for each forum. She canvases her network of industry thought leaders and builds a learning experience that is hand crafted to meet the needs of healthcare marketers, strategists and communicators (among others). It is this hand-on attention to detail that leads to a winning conference agenda.

This year Judy asked me to develop a presentation related to innovative practices in online community development. I’ve recruited two terrific speakers who will show the relevance of online communities to patients and healthcare professionals. My first panelist, Cindy Price Gavin, is the founder of an online community for people with Pancreatic Cancer called Let’s Win. This is an remarkable platform that enables patients, doctors, and researchers to share fast-breaking information on potentially life-saving pancreatic cancer treatments and trials that go beyond the standard of care. Through Let’s Win, patients and their families can exchange information about their diagnoses and the science-driven treatments they have undertaken beyond traditional protocols, and share what they learn from others with their medical team. I also have Colin Hung on my panel. Colin is a healthcare social media influencer and thought leader. He works for Stericycle Communication Solutions, but is perhaps best know as one of the founders of the Healthcare Leadership Twitter Chat and community.  (You can check out the Healthcare Leadership Blog here.) The #HCLDR chat and community is made up of physicians, nurses, public health professional, healthcare IT professionals, marketers, hospital administrators, patient advocates, patients and more. It is an amazing community that comes together every Tuesday evening to address a new topic. Here’s the write-up for our session:


I hope to see you at the 2017 Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit! It truly is one of my favorite events of the year.

Last week I published a post about Renown Health’s commitment to taking action outside of the hospital’s walls to address community health. I visited Renown a couple of weeks ago and was thoroughly impressed by so many aspects of their operation. Today I’m sharing some thoughts about what Renown Health is doing within its walls to create a healing and healthy environment for patients, family members, visitors and employees.


Photo Caption: Display of artwork at Renown Health

When I speak at conferences, there are always a few audience members who are surprised to hear me say that many hospitals were not designed with the patient and his or her family in mind. For decades we built institutions that were not patient- and family-friendly and certainly weren’t hospitable. The facilities were cold and stark. They were loud. Lighting was horrible. These were not what I call healing environments. They were places for medical and therapeutic interventions – and for monitoring patients during recovery.

Today we understand that the environment has a lot to do with the patient’s recovery and well-being. It can also impact employees and their job performance. So, thank goodness, we are building amazing new healthcare facilities that truly offer patients, family members and hospital employees a healing and healthy environment. Many new hospitals have circadian lighting to simulate a natural environment. It is common to find artwork on the walls of the facility, and occasionally in patient rooms. I love this trend! Patient rooms now make accommodations for family members spending the night. Many hospitals have even eliminated formal visiting hours and offer valet parking – two patient-centric developments.

Throughout the industry there has also been an effort to make hospitals healthier environments by eliminating smoking and by emphasizing healthy food options in cafeterias and other hospital-based restaurants. Many healthcare organizations now have weekly farmer’s markets for their employees and visitors – emphasizing the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating. And finally, the Green Health movement has led to many hospitals to start using non-toxic building and cleaning products to reduce the negative health impact on patients, visitors and employees.

Within the hospital’s walls: As my colleague and I toured Renown last week we were astounded by the healing environment they have created. And trust me, not every hospital qualifies as having a healing environment. So what has Renown done to distinguish itself? First, Renown has more original art displayed throughout the medical center than I have ever seen within a healthcare organization – paintings, photography and sculpture. There are also amazing healing gardens for adults and children. The adult garden has a labyrinth – an amazing tool for meditation and reflection.


Photo Caption: Glass Sculpture at Renown Health


Photo Caption: Children’s Healing Garden at Renown Health

One of the other patient- and family-friendly features that impressed me as we toured Renown is the abundance of retail within the medical center. Renown Regional Medical Center is home to a variety of shops offering everything from mom and baby gifts to trendy clothing, from fresh-cut flowers to balloons, from sit-down dining to grab-and-go treats. The Shops at Renown Health include a CVS Pharmacy, the Artisan Market Bistro, Starbucks, an upscale Boutique, a floral shop, FreshBerry Frozen Yogurt, Subway, a logo shop for Renown apparel, a traditional gift shot (Sierra Gifts), and a cafe featuring healthy options and cuisine from around the world (Chinese, Mexican, European, Mediterranean, etc). When visiting the shops and restaurants you get a sense of the familiar – a feeling a normalcy. That has to be a calming experience for patients, family members and visitors.

Finally, Renown has full service hotel on the Renown Regional Medical Center campus. The Inn at Renown offers non-smoking rooms perfect for patients and their families, medical center visitors and guests attending on-campus seminars. Three of the rooms include kitchenettes for guests who plan an extended stay.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-8-27-27-amThese are just a few of the features I noted while on our tour of Renown Regional Medical Center. The abundance of original art, because it is so visually striking, left the greatest impression upon me. This was particularly true in the Renown Institute for Cancer. When the patient enters the Institute, he or she immediately faces a vibrant wall sculpture. Around every corner is the visitor finds a new piece of art. My guess is that the environment is not at all what first time visitors expect of a cancer center. However, it is what I have come to expect of modern, patient-friendly facilities!

If you’re interested in the creation of healing environments within hospitals, here are some posts I’ve written on the subject in the past:

Vermont Hospitals Embrace Art to Create Healing Environments

Reducing Hospital Noise to Create Healing Environments

Hospitals Offering Concierge Services for Patients

Green Initiatives on the Rise in Healthcare

Bringing the Arts into your Hospital


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